Summary Of On Death And Dying By Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s synopsis and collection of interviews in her book, On Death and Dying, help to explain the experiences which terminally ill people have. It is a guide for health care providers in all specialties on how to address the psycho-somatic aspect of a terminal illness. The first-hand experiences accounted by the patients in Kübler-Ross’s book give personality and identity to the stages outlined in the book. Just as people experiencing grief go through five stages, Kübler-Ross examines how terminally ill patients experience the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Patients who are dying must grieve the loss of their own lives before finding peace. Physicians who are aware of such stages and the best …show more content…
Kübler-Ross compares the bargaining patient to a child whose parent has already told them “No.” They attempt to postpone the inevitable by setting a deadline. If only they can live to that deadline, they plead, then they will be okay with dying. Once that deadline passes, the patient only sets another. They spend their time bargaining with any higher power in which they believe, hoping for more time. While this stage is arguably the most irrational, it is no less beneficial than the other stages. Bargaining is an expression of hope. In this stage, patients wish to prolong their lives, and feel motivated to fight to stay alive. Again, it is not the role of the physician or caretaker to try to talk the patient out of bargaining. While it does no good to play into their pleads and convince them that they will stay alive until their set deadline just because they asked, it is important to be honest with them. There must be a balance. The physician should tell the patient truthfully about their condition, but be aware of the psychological response the patient may have. Kübler-Ross recommends against setting a deadline for the patients. It is diminishing to tell a patient an exact time frame they have left to live. No medical condition is so predictable, and it makes the patient less hopeful. There must be a balance in how caretakers interact with a patient …show more content…
This stage reflects the five stages of grief in that the person dying most strongly feels a sense of loss. Rather than missing someone from their life, they are prospectively grieving their own life. There is an awareness that they will be missing from the lives of their loved ones and will no longer be able to perform the activities they once loved. This can be the most productive stage. Once the terminally ill patient has experience denial, anger, and bargaining, they can view their situation realistically. Unlike other forms of depression, for terminally ill patients it should not be discouraged. It is useless for caretakers and physicians to tell a depressed patient to “look at the bright side” because it invalidates their feelings. The patient should be allowed to grapple with the imminence of their death. Significant others trying to repress the stage of depression only hinders the progression of acceptance. As in the other stages, physicians and caretakers should be there to offer support. If the patient is willing to talk about their feelings, it should be encouraged. This is a preparatory depression, as Kübler-Ross puts it, and especially for those who lingered in the other stages of grief, depression can be a milestone

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